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International Day of the Girl National Celebrations

October 19th, 2021

Terre des Hommes Netherlands participated in a high-level national celebration event in Uganda during the International Day of the Girl Child, with the theme for this year being Digital Generation, Our Generation. This event was held at a crucial time as Terre des Hommes Netherlands embarks on its new global strategy that sets out the goals and objectives the organisation will work towards to expose hidden and underexposed forms of child exploitation with a keen focus on lobbying and advocacy.

Objectives

The national celebrations presented an opportunity for TdH NL, through the She Leads programme, to emphasize the need to increase girls and young women's access to digital skills and platforms to enable them to learn, thrive and contribute to decision making for the social and economic transformation of the country.

The main objective of the national celebrations was to voice concerns and reflect on the performance of existing strategies, programmes and projects aimed at making girls´ rights a reality in Uganda. The national celebrations were also aimed to launch the revised Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Teenage pregnancy in school settings in Uganda, 2020, launch a multi-media campaign targeting parents to protect and promote the well being of children at home during the Covid 19 pandemic, and affirm the sustainable development goals, Africa Agenda 2063, Africa's  Agenda for children 2040 and Uganda's Vision 2040.

Building blocks for the wellbeing of the girl child

Speaking to those in attendance, The Chief Guest, Her Excellency Janet Museveni stated, ¨It's important for us to properly situate the theme of this year's IDG, which is Digital Generation, Our Generation. It is good to aspire for equity and equality by advancing issues like the right of access to education, nutrition, legal rights and participation in the digital revolution. However, all these are enabled by good upbringing and a strong foundation of early childhood development which only the family can guarantee. If we are to have an active digital revolution for all diversities, we must urgently reposition the family in all these efforts. This is the first building block for proper wellbeing.¨ 

Digital equality of girls and young women

James Yesiga, the Uganda Country Manager Terre des Hommes Netherlands, presented on digital equality on behalf of all Civil Society Organisations. He stated that it is important to note that increasing girls’ and young women’s digital skills involve early and sustained exposure to digital technologies. He added that interventions must reflect a multifaceted approach, enabling girls and women to acquire skills in a variety of formal and informal contexts at home, in school and in their communities.

He proceeded to emphasise that without equal access to technology and the internet, girls and women would not be able to equally participate in increasingly digital societies. Furthermore, he said that holding back girls and women affects multiple aspects of their lives such as their access to learning, as well as their ability to speak out and campaign on issues that matter to them. He affirmed that he had been engaging with girls who expressed both their enthusiasm for engaging in online spaces, as well as some of their frustrations and the barriers to their access and equal participation. 

He called upon various stakeholders, especially the government to make a concerted effort to strengthen digital initiatives and activities that enable girls to learn, thrive and contribute to decision making for the social and economic transformation of the country, through the following:

  1. Funding and delivering digital literacy initiatives and campaigns for girls and children as well as parents and caregivers to understand the critical importance of digital inclusion, meaningful connectivity, and the opportunities and risks that come with being online
  2. Because digital is the new normal, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic, governments should continue striving to implement alternative learning approaches that are increasingly inclusive.
  3. Ensuring equal access to learning relevant technical skills and digital literacy and through training programmes for girls to be able to take advantage of technology and digital tools.
  4. Establishing digital literacy as part of the school curricula for schools – both primary and secondary – including components that explicitly address gender.
  5. Government should work with telecommunication service providers to improve access and affordability of the internet by lowering the cost associated with internet data and other digital technologies for women and girls.
  6. The media should strive to inform, educate and mobilise the public to respect and promote women’ rights online and also improve on their professionalism in reporting about cases of online violence against women
  7. Civil society organisations should seek to build stronger multi-stakeholder coalitions to advance and promote women and girls’ rights online.

Statement from a girl advocate

A 16-year-old She Leads Uganda girl representative gave recommendations to different state actors and civil society organisations on behalf of all girls in Uganda. Some of the recommendations she cited to attain access to digital platforms for all girls in Uganda included:

  • Ensuring that the digital generation is inclusive irrespective of age, location,  and household income status. This can be attained through providing community-based free internet to enable girls from the different communities to have free digital access, and by making data affordable for all users.
  • Sensitising parents so that they do not have a negative attitude towards girls using digital tools.
  • Digital education to be introduced at all levels of education; from early childhood development, primary level, secondary level and tertiary education institutions.
  • Digital devices to be tailor-made to cater for children living with disabilities so that they can as well benefit from all the digital platforms.
  • Affirmative action for girls and young women interested in studying ICT related courses so as to break the gender space in the ICT related field.

With the world going through a digital revolution, Terre des Hommes Netherlands is committed to ensuring that no girl or young woman is left behind. 

In the words of Uganda's Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi, ¨If we are to raise a generation of girls who are change-makers, technology is a crucial tool to support their work, activism and their leadership.¨

Click the links below to watch snippets of the day´s celebration:

International Day of the Girl Child 2021

Day of the Girl Child 2021

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